|Meet The Cantellos.
David and Bonnie Cantello, 46 and 47 respectively, were each addicted to drugs and alcohol for more than 20 years. "We had nothing," said Bonnie. "We didn't know how to act, we had been in jail, we were a disaster."
Everything turned around after the Cantellos moved to The Salvation Army's Norristown Shelter 11 years ago. "They helped us when we had no where to go," said David. "They didn't judge us or put us down. They showed us that we're never alone."
"We got physical help, emotional help, spiritual help, everything we needed," said Bonnie. "The key thing is, there's always hope. We didn't have any before The Salvation Army."
Bonnie has since earned her associate's degree in accounting and manages the finances of The Army's Norristown Corps; David secured a job as head foreman and manages numerous crews. They bought a home. But none of this was the most rewarding part of staying sober.
"The biggest benefit is that our daughter, Deanna, has had the opportunity to grow up in a good environment," said David. "Since we're no longer empty inside, we haven't passed on how we were raised to Deanna. She has strength and true meaning in her life."
Deanna, a 10-year-old fifth grader, has thrived in The Army's youth programming. At the Norristown Corps she participates in Sunbeams, a character-building program for girls. "It's taught me to not be afraid of challenges, and to work hard," said Deanna. She also is a Junior Soldier in The Salvation Army, a role which has helped her learn about God and to follow a pledge that guides her on what to do ("always read the Bible") and what not to do ("drink or do drugs"). Also as a Junior Soldier each summer she attends The Army's Camp Ladore in the Poconos, where there are "obstacle courses that are so much fun," and where she memorizes Bible verses, among many other both exciting and educational activities.
Deanna attends music lessons at The Salvation Army's Roxborough Corps on Tuesday nights and excels as a vocalist and pianist. In fact, Deanna was selected to represent The Army's Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division in The Army's national Star Search competition. Deanna has participated in music camp at Camp Ladore for the past three years. She has also taken up the violin at school. Thanks to her musical training at The Army, she picked it up very quickly and is ahead of the rest of her class.
The Cantello family also worships together every week at the Roxborough Corps; Deanna participates in Sunday School, where she learns Bible lessons, often through games and arts and crafts. David is teaching Adult Bible Study; Bonnie is a Senior Soldier. Said David, "If this transformation in our lives hadn't taken place, God knows where Deanna would be. The people God put in The Salvation Army, they're the reason why we're here today."